Tag Archives: woods

Forests that Claim your Heart

‘It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts,
as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees,
that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.’

Robert Louis Stevenson

Forests that claim your Heart - The Last KrystallosForests are inspiring, especially to writers. Imagine Tolkien without Fangorn Forest and the Ents, or Lothlórien, or Mirkwood. And Walter De La Mare’s The Listeners would be nothing without its haunting forest’s ferny floor. Even Shakespeare’s Macbeth awaiting Birnam Wood… We have been inspired by trees and forests since the beginning of time, and I can’t see the fascination ending.

I recently read these two articles, the first on Brechfa Forest and the second a list of Twenty of the Best British Forests, and it made me reflect on my local woods and forests. Having a dog means exploring forests becomes a way of life and I have my favourites.

Roxy - Green Castle Woods - The Last Krystallos

Roxy – Green Castle Woods © Lisa Shambrook

Green Castle Woods, just outside Carmarthen on the road to Llansteffan, was one of Roxy’s best places. She loved to lope through the trees and the bluebells, sniffing, wading through mud and/or leaves, and enjoying the fresh outdoors. Bluebells are always a major reason for visiting Green Castle – they’re my favourite flower and have influenced my writing – and they bring me peace. Bluebells and white wood anemone with fairy wings blanket the woods in spring and leaves of bronze, gold, and brown colour autumn.

Bluebells - anemone - Roxy - Green Castle Woods - The Last Krystallos

Bluebells at Green Castle Woods © Lisa Shambrook

The circular walk ends, either in 30 minutes or an hour, at the old oak. This tree has captivated me for years. When I first saw it, standing alone, I thought it was dead, especially as it was midwinter and bare, but as spring dawned I noticed new growth and my own excitement burgeoned just like its leaf buds! It spread gnarled branches, and foliage erupted and beauty ensued. It quickly became the most beautiful and unusual tree I know.

Four seasons - Old Oak - Green Castle Woods - The Last Krystallos

The Old Oak at Green Castle Woods © Lisa Shambrook

This oak is not much more than ten feet tall, and hollow. I know nature withstands a great deal, and the fact that it is fully alive amazes me seeing as it’s almost completely hollow. It stands alone in the middle of a reclaimed meadow in Green Castle Woods, and reminds me that even when I’m spent I can still flourish.

Kira - Brechfa Forest - The Last Krystallos

Kira – Brechfa Forest © Lisa Shambrook

Kira is a different dog altogether, so our forest of choice for walking is the much quieter Brechfa Forest. Sixteen and a half acres of forest spread across Northern Carmarthenshire allows you to find your own paths, and due to Kira’s fear reactivity to both people and dogs it’s an ideal place to walk her when we’re not training. It gives her freedom and though, unlike Roxy, she remains on a long retractable lead she enjoys the liberty and opportunity to explore.

Brechfa moss - Kira - Brechfa Forest - The Last Krystallos

Brechfa Forest © Lisa Shambrook

Brechfa is magical, like the description in the linked The Independent piece, and it always feels enchanting and ancient. Green is the predominant colour throughout the year, olive, peridot, and emerald. Swathes of moss hang from the spruce and pine, and lichen and moss spread across the grassy forest floor. Reindeer moss hangs in trees like chandelier jewels and like snow on the ground. In autumn toadstools and mushrooms decorate the stumps and fog moves through the trees like ghostly spirits.

Toadstools mushrooms - fog - reindeer moss - oxalis - Brechfa Forest - The Last Krystallos

Brechfa Forest © Lisa Shambrook

Trees offer balm for my soul, wisdom, and pure natural beauty. I could spend all day winding my paths beneath them. Having a dog is a bonus, giving me even more opportunity to walk and share the peaceful gratitude of the forests.    

Do you have a favourite woodland or forest?

Visual Dare: Elite

Photo Source

Photo Source

She carved and built, delicately working her fingers, all month, barely stopping. This time she could help, she could do more than hold a banner, or be chained to a gate, this time she could really make a difference!

They laughed at her, the others, but they’d see.

When Maggie scoffed at the idea of a tree house, River bit her lip and bided her time. When Maggie chained herself to the old oak, River kept working. When they cut Maggie’s chains and the bulldozers moved in, River set down her tools and waited.

They laughed, when they saw it, they howled and snickered, but River watched as the engines growled.

It was the faces at the windows, tiny faces, peaked ears and delicate fingers pressed against River’s tiny panes of glass that stopped the laughter.

No motorway would ever cut through the ancient wood that housed fabled little folk…

(150 words)

00. VisDare Badge

A tale of survival and whimsy…read the others at Anonymous Legacy’s Visual Dare, and enjoy x

Blues Buster: Time to Live, Lie, Laugh and Die

So, I’m not a Doors fan (sorry), but this weeks Mid Week Blues-Buster over at the Tsuruoka Files is ‘Take It As It Comes’ by The Doors and the first few words caught me…’Time to live, time to lie, time to laugh, time to die’ and that’s where I took it:

Photograph by Lisa Shambrook (Please do not use without permission)
Time to Live, Lie, Laugh and Die
She ran, her breath tearing at her throat, and her legs threatening to give way, but his crashing footfall still thundered behind her. She could barely recall his smile as her feet dragged through mental sludge.

“C’mon baby…let’s have some fun!” He grinned and his eyes pierced her through. Her breath caught and her heart skipped that proverbial beat. “Time to live a little!” he said as he grabbed her hand and lead her to the dance floor where she allowed the pounding music to flood her veins. 
Caught in the moment and the euphoria of his blue eyes, she threw back her head and swayed, enjoying the way he looked at her. “Be back in a bit babe,” he said and sauntered off through the ocean of undulating bodies. He threw back a glance and she caught his wink.

Fog coursed through her mind, and her steps became clumsy and tree roots crept close to her ankles. She leaped and sidestepped, and forced herself on as the echo of broken twigs splintered her heart.

He sloshed the drink as he passed it to her. “Sorry!” His hand shot forward to brush the spillage from her shoulder, and desire at his touch burned behind her eyes. The cool drink sated her thirst and she let him take her hand.

Now her eyes burned with tears, and the trees swayed tall and liquid either side as she ran. Fear twisted its knife in her back and darkness began to fall. There was nowhere to go, nowhere to hide and his voice boomed through the dusk. “Everything’s going to be okay! Where are you? Wait for me!” His words bounced from tree to tree and she ran unable to tell which way was left or which way was right.

The drink took hold faster than she could imagine and as teasingly slow as he wanted, and it wasn’t long before she allowed him to hold her steady and lead her to safety. He laughed and she shivered as she wobbled and grasped his hand, leaning uncomfortably close enough for him to inhale her dizzy sweetness.

His laugh resounded and the chill of the drawing night danced across her skin. She shook her hazy mind and swung into dense undergrowth, her skirts catching on brambles and the wind. She ducked beneath huge, fingered leaves and rampant thorns, ignoring trails of scarlet rising across her pale arms.  Like Sleeping Beauty at the spindle she slipped into unwelcome slumber and her pursuer tore on through the night.

Daylight dawned, casting rays of gold on her sleeping body and she slowly rose, fear manifest behind tearstained eyes.  Frightened eyes darted from tree to tree as she escaped the forest’s cocoon.  A heeled shoe and bare foot stepped warily, until a few feet away lay a body. A man tripped by roots and tangled bramble, an errant fallen branch a stake in his heart, now resting cold in death…and morning’s respite brought her time.

(497 Words)


My most favourite flowers ever are Bluebells…very evident from my Blog banner picture…they take me back to childhood walks in woods with my family, beautiful bouquets gathered through the railings from railway banks where I lived as a child, and inspiration for my book ‘Beneath The Rainbow’. So a walk in a bluebell wood is heaven! 
I thought I’d share a few photographs from today. Beautiful sunshine, gorgeous bluebells and a lovely Sunday afternoon dog walk in Greencastle Woods, Carmarthen.
Photo by Lisa Shambrook Flickr
Photo By Lisa Shambrook
Photo by Lisa Shambrook
Photo by Lisa Shambrook
Photo by Lisa Shambrook with Instagram